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1C director feels retailers only have themselves to blame over the rise of digital distribution

Tuesday, 30th November 2010 22:30 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

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Darryl Still, international publishing director for 1C, has said retailers threatening to no longer carry PC titles with Steam support are akin to spoiled brats not getting their way.

Relaying his option over on MCV in an editorial response to a report on UK retailers threatening to not stock games which contain Steam support, Still believes the reaction is due to retailers finally realizing there’s still a market for PC games, and are only now throwing a fit due to the success of digital distribution.

According to Still’s opinion, the retail stores only have itself to blame for the popularity of services like Steam, Direct2Drive, Impulse, and others.

“What is more surprising is the reaction of retail now. I have read it described as the reaction of a small child who threw his toy away because he no longer wanted it, but started screaming as soon as another child picked it up to play with. The metaphor works perfectly, especially in the light of the excuse I heard on numerous occasions,” wrote Still.

“‘There is no demand’, went the mantra. But is this really true? Not in our experience.

“I remember fondly the meeting in my office with a red-faced publisher who was explaining why their initial order from a major retailer for one of our new releases was just 30 units. At the time I had my browser open on the Steam product data page, which updates sales numbers every few minutes. ‘They have taken one unit for each of their top 30 stores’, he told me. ‘There is just no demand from their customers.’

“I glanced at my screen, hit refresh and advised him: ‘In the time it’s taken you to tell me that there is no demand, Steam has sold 45 units.’”

Still, a big proponent of digital distribution, revealed in his editorial 1C makes more money through digital sales than it does at retail stores, and furthermore, digital sales cost less money out of pocket for the publisher than the traditional retail route.

He also said the PC games market in the UK and US saw “massive” declines due to the way it went unsupported by bricks and mortar retailers when there was no reason for any decline in the first place.

“Shelf space was being reduced on an almost monthly basis in favor of the latest twitch kids console title and it was becoming more and more difficult to get titles listed in any depth – even when those titles were securing review scores of over 80 percent,” Still offered.

“It’s not surprising that PC gamers turned to different methods of distribution, and Steam filled that need perfectly. Not just providing a well stocked distribution platform, but a whole social network for enthusiast gamers who were not getting supported elsewhere as their hobby went mainstream.”

1C deals with more digital distribution sites than just Steam, 26 to be exact, and each one will pay monthly sales back to the publisher with figured varying between hundred and tens of thousands.

It’s a really interesting read from someone who deals with the digital model, and you can read the full thing through the link up top.

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7 Comments

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  1. Bond James Bond

    It’s inevitable that’s the way the industry is going as publishers and developers will gain more control over their IP.

    Retail can smell their own death and they fucking know it.

    #1 4 years ago
  2. Hunam

    More self publishing would be the best thing in the word for PC gaming.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. Old MacDonald

    I agree with what he’s saying, and I’m glad they’re having success with digital distribution. OTOH, I’m also quite disappointed the retailers forced them to take this route in the first place. It may have been inevitable, but thanks to the retailers it happened too soon, and the PC games industry suffered because of that.

    #3 4 years ago
  4. OlderGamer

    Spot on.

    I love the twitch console kids game comment.

    I don’t know what things are like where you folks live but where I live there is almost no shelf space at all in stores for PC games. With some stores like FYE liquidating their PC game stock completly.

    Oh well screw em. Steam FTW.

    #4 4 years ago
  5. datamonkey

    “Shelf space was being reduced on an almost monthly basis in favor of the latest twitch kids console title and it was becoming more and more difficult to get titles listed in any depth – even when those titles were securing review scores of over 80 percent”

    This is so true. Look at Game – the actual variety and choice of games there is pathetic!

    #5 4 years ago
  6. DSB

    What they need to do is stop making exclusive preorder deals with retailers, purely because they can cover three or four different versions. Of course there’s no chance they’ll do that, but goddamn that’s annoying.

    I don’t know what the chances are of Steam making it to consoles (is it confirmed for PS3?) but that would arguably be the best thing to happen for PC gamers in a long time, in terms of exclusives and pricing.

    #6 4 years ago
  7. GwynbleiddiuM

    Digital distribution makes sense in today’s business models. First publisher’s wont go over the lengths of producing physical discs and packaging. Second, they won’t have shipping costs. Third, to all that retail is taking its own cut from the sales. Of course digital distributors like steam take their own cuts out of the profit, but since we will not have packaging cost and shipping cost, digital distribution makes it a perfect model for developers and publishers. Good thing about digital distribution is independent developers now actually can profit from their hard works.

    I’m a happy steam user and I buy most of my games through steam or other digital distribution services.

    And digital is more accessible for older titles with much better prices, of course this would vary.

    I just hope publishers like EA, Ubisoft, Activision, etc put more trust in currently available models like steam, GoG, Direct2Drive than they have in their own broken services.

    Honestly I find no point in using multiple services to satisfy my gaming desires while I can easily get all the titles I want from lets say steam. And I would not need to install 10 different clients on my machine.

    #7 4 years ago